Churton Parish Council
Draft minutes of the Annual Parish meeting held on Tuesday 28th April at 7.30pm in Churton Village Hall.


1. Present: Churton Parish Councillors Angela Palmer (Chair), Jennie Clayton, Jan Edwards, Diana Mander, Helen Dearden and Howard Mead; Ex Churton Parish Councillors Alan Maddock and John Gallagher; Neil Ritchie, Councillor for Broxton Ward of Cheshire West & Chester Council; Sarah Hazel, Farndon Primary School Parent-Teacher Association; Tony Owens PC: 14 members of the public and The Clerk.
2. Apologies were received from Craig Eddleston.
3. Chairman's Report. Cllr Palmer said that "change" and "struggle" were the two words which came to mind when thinking about the last year. The Litter Picker/ Clerk, Graeme Ward had resigned in July. City Councillor Paul Roberts was Clerk for two months before Charles Higgie was appointed as The Litter Picker/ Clerk. Jennie Clayton had been co-opted in September to bring the number of serving councillors up to six. The council was still looking for two more councillors. Trying to get people involved in the Village Hall Committee was hard. In effect the Parish Council had taken over the Village Hall affairs. Councillors had to be careful not to mix the two roles. Also the council has advertised for people to help with speed monitoring. SID (Speed Indicator Device) had been used, although speed guns were better. 6 were trained to use the speed gun. Teams of three were needed, one to hold the gun, one to shout out the details of the vehicle and one to write the information down. Training for the speed gun took about an hour.
None of the posts - Parish Councillor, Village Hall Committee or Speed Enforcement Assistance - took up a lot of time and members of the public present were asked to consider volunteering.
There had also been a big change in council structures. Churton was now part of Cheshire West & Chester. We had had visits to the council meetings from a Police Liaison Officer, Cllrs Ann Wright and Mike Jones. Brian Bailey had visited the council to present again an environmental award for work done at the Farndon end of the Stannage Lane junction. This had largely been an initiative from former councillor John Gallagher. Cllr Jan Edwards had originally collected the award on the council's behalf.
One sad occurrence over the year had been the passing of Joyce Rowlands and a bench had been bought to commemorate her.
The council had set a precept in January. For several years it had been held at £1,000. This had been raised to £1,500 and it may have to be raised again.
4. Village Plan. An email report from Mr Craig Eddleston was read out.
5. Mr Hayes raised the issue of large Lorries using Hob Lane, and causing damage to the walls along the lane. Sat Nav tended to direct vehicles into Hob Lane. It had been a problem for 28 years. Cllr Neil Ritchie suggested writing to the council with these concerns, as there were new circumstances which may be accepted now. There was meant to be height and weight restrictions on lorries using these streets. Mr Alan Maddock said that there was also a problem in the Southern end of Stannage Lane as banks were being worn away by large Lorries. There was also a need for a 30mph limit on the entire length of Stannage Lane.
6. Sarah Hazel spoke about the problems at Farndon Primary School. Three mobile classrooms needed attention. Toilet facilities were not adequate. Playground equipment was needed and the playground was muddy. It was agreed to support the campaign to improve the school.
7. Tony Owens said that Churton was quite a safe area. There had been a few burglaries. It was necessary to keep sheds etc locked. Heating oil had been stolen. Scrap metal was another thing criminals were going after. Farm equipment could be vulnerable. Monitoring alarms could reduce crimes, as did notices warning people of dogs and/or cctv. It was important to report anything suspicious. There had also been a number of road-related incidents including sheep on the road. Although for most other council service the county had been broken up, the Police Force would remain Cheshire Police. We were in the West Cheshire area, which was made up of the former districts of Chester and Ellesmere Port.
8. Village Hall: The hall was well used, with Farndon Brass Band using it on Wednesday and Thursday nights. There was a Monday morning keep fit class, and keep fit classes on Monday and Tuesday nights. There were monthly bingo and whist meetings, and several private parties. The hall belonged to the Grosvenor Estate, and £100 was paid per year for its use. The facilities in the kitchen were poor. One kettle lacked a lid. The Parish Plan group were looking into ways of improving the hall. It was hard to get into some of the cupboards. Proceeds from the annual barbecue went to the Village Hall. Grants for insulation, kitchen and play equipment will be looked into. More use of the hall would generate more income which may help pay for these improvements.
9. Cllr Neil Ritchie reported on the progress of Cheshire West & Chester Council. (CW&C) There were three councillors serving Broxton ward, and they would try and arrange for one of them to attend meetings. Some services should be able to generate efficiencies, some will be less efficient and some will remain the same. Buses will continue to serve the whole county. CW&C would be in charge of school education and he did support the Farndon Primary School campaign, but money for capital improvements was short. The new council will take time to bed down. The old Rural South Area Committee had gone, but a new Broxton Community Forum would replace it. Representatives from the police, parish councillors and the general public would be welcome. There would be a budget for local causes, with similar qualifying criteria. There were several other grant-aiding bodies that could also help local causes. It was wise to have quotes for the cost of schemes, so that you can move quicker when grants become available. In Tilston people on probation decorated the hall. It is better if every user of the hall is represented on the committee. A new waste collection scheme was on its way, starting on June 15. There was also a new planning committee, which rotated round the three former districts. Plans can therefore be considered more quickly. It is possible for parish councillors and member of public to speak at these meetings. There would be a new Highways and Transportation Committee and new Community Forums to look at local issues. CW&C were keen to encourage Village Plans, but these most come from the local community. They will affect the planning process. As there were fewer councillors, CW&C would rely more on Parish Councils which are the bodies nearest the people. There was a meeting on Thursday night on April 30 at The Four Ways, near Delamere to which everyone was invited.
10. Any other business. There were concerns about uses of Pump Lane. It was effectively a through road. People speed down it. It was used by children, horses, bikes and tractors, yet often motorists travelled very fast along it. There were no pavements. Very wide tractors fill the road and chew up the grass verges. Often they are estate tractors going in one direction only. Passing places may easy the situation. The chair commented that there were similar problems in other parts of the parish. It was agreed to put it on the agenda for the next Parish Council meeting. The reactive sign had reduced speed on the main road, and could do so in Pump Lane. There was a need to get the speed monitoring teams together again, and to become a Community Speed Watch Area.
The Churton Website will be updated. The Parish Plan group are looking into it.
"Slow" signs on the main road needed going over again.
Farndon Parish Council was interested in reducing the speed limits out of Farndon. Maybe a joint approach may help.
In 2007 some trees had been planted in Pump lane. A plaque had been bought to commemorate this. There would be a ceremony on Saturday May 23, 2009. All were invited.